I would like to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNOCA, Mr Abarry, for his presentation and his important work. I would like to welcome the President of the Commission of the Economic Community of Central African States, Mr Da Piedade Verissimo, and the representative of civil society, Ms Tamoifo.
The presentations we have just heard illustrate the nature of Central Africa's security challenges: they are multidimensional, cross-border, interconnected - and significant. This is why UNOCA's engagement with all Central African states and collaboration with other UN missions and offices remains crucial.
I would like to highlight three points:
Firstly, the growing insecurity and deteriorating human rights situation in some countries threatens to impact all of Central Africa. I am referring first of all to the cross-border activities of armed groups, which hamper efforts to consolidate peace and threaten the protection of civilians. Switzerland welcomes the collaboration between the Central African Republic and Cameroon aimed at strengthening the security of civilians in border areas, and encourages further cooperation with other neighbouring countries. The arrival of people fleeing the conflict in Sudan has a direct impact on the security and humanitarian situation in Central Africa. We welcome the efforts of the countries in the region to receive refugees. We are concerned by the increase in the number of people in need of assistance as a result of protracted humanitarian crises, particularly in Cameroon. We call on all parties to respect international humanitarian law, in particular by allowing and facilitating rapid and unhindered humanitarian access to civilian populations in need.
Secondly, strengthening good governance and promoting inclusive and transparent political dialogue remains essential for the region. Conflicts are often political in nature, and security responses alone cannot offer a lasting solution. The transition process underway in Chad since 2021, for example, presents a unique opportunity to initiate significant change in the country. For this to happen, the full participation of civilian actors, including the opposition, is essential. In this context, we welcome the constructive role played by UNOCA, including with the transitional government in Chad. Furthermore, several electoral cycles will take place in the region in 2023. Peaceful, transparent and inclusive elections are a powerful catalyst for advancing peace and stability. This is why we are calling for the respect for human rights, in particular by guaranteeing political rights, as well as providing the necessary means for the full and meaningful participation of women.
Thirdly, the impact of climate change on security in Central Africa is visible and must be taken into account. Aichatou Monkaila, a civil society representative from Niger, reminded the council of this last month: in the Lake Chad basin, 5.5 million people have been affected by flooding and a thousand have lost their lives. In other places, droughts contribute to the modification of transhumance corridors, to food insecurity and to displacement, thereby fuelling conflicts. We congratulate the countries of the region on their critical initiatives to tackle climate change, notably the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI). We also welcome the analytical work undertaken by UNOCA and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) on the impact of climate change on peace and security. We hope that the appointment of a specialized adviser on climate and security for UNOCA will contribute to addressing this critical nexus in the region.
In view of the complex security challenges in Central Africa, Switzerland reiterates its full support for UNOCA. I call on other members to do likewise. In this regard, Switzerland fully subscribes to the efforts made by the Gambia and the United Kingdom to adopt a presidential statement. After three years, it is time for this Council to reiterate its support for the valuable work of the regional office in all areas of its mandate.